The NFL season kicks off this week and it's a great reminder that more and more players are on the record stating their support for gay teammates and gay people in general. Here are 62 such players from interviews players have done in the media, including Outsports.
This is not the definitive list, since it's possible we missed some, but it includes some of the game's newest stars like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III and possible Hall-of-Famers like Reggie Wayne and Charles Woodson.
Carson Palmer (Arizona Cardinals): "In our locker room I think he would be accepted very easily," Palmer said. "I've been around the league a long time and you play with a lot of guys from a lot of different backgrounds, and that's just the world we live in. I don't think there would be any issues in this locker room. I think guys would accept him. All the locker rooms I've been in, in fact, since I've been in the NFL, I think he would be accepted very easily."
Stepfan Taylor (Arizona Cardinals): "It wouldn't be a problem," he said about having a gay teammate. "That's his business. We're all out there playing football, and if he's out there to win games, everyone's out there together. People respect other people's values and decisions. It's a respect thing. You don't have to agree with anything or disagree with things, you just respect that you're here to play football."
Terrell Suggs (Baltimore Ravens): Asked if he would have a problem with a gay teammate, Suggs answered, "Absolutely not." Suggs then added that the rest of the team would welcome a gay teammate as well. We wouldn’t have a problem with it," Suggs said. "We don’t care. Our biggest thing in the locker room is to just have fun and stay loose. We don’t really care too much about that. We’re a football team. I said it yesterday; everybody deserves a certain amount of privacy. Who cares? Whatever a person’s choice is, it’s their choice."
"On this team, with so many different personalities, we just accept people for who they are and we don’t really care too much about a player’s sexuality," Suggs said. "To each their own. You know who you are, and we accept you for it."
Robert Woods (Buffalo Bills): "Publicly, does it really matter?" Woods asked about Jason Collins coming out. "Everybody has their own sexuality. Why's it such a big deal about his story? It is what it is."
T.J. Graham (Buffalo Bills): The receiver sees gay rights as a civil rights issue. "You can’t discriminate. It’s just like black, white, same thing. You wouldn’t discriminate against my race, just like I wouldn’t discriminate against your sexuality."
Martellus Bennett (Chicago Bears tight end, via Twitter): "There's def at least one or 2 gay guys on every team. Who cares?! If someone can play ball let em play."
Giovanni Bernard (Cincinnati Bengals): "That's good for America, that's good for our society to kind of get that out there," Bernard said about Jason Collins coming out. "Nowadays, people have a certain stigma of their sexuality, but I think they shouldn't be considered different at all."
Shayne Graham (Free Agent, formerly with Cincinnati Bengals): "I've always felt that wherever and whenever we know what the issues are, we knew it would be a matter of time before we would see someone do that. And as long as that person is comfortable enough and is treated fairly in the locker rooms, by the players and the coaches and the organizations and the leagues."
Trent Richardson (Cleveland Browns): The running back said about having an openly gay teammate -- "As long as they’re playing good football and contributing to the team, I don’t have nothing to do with that. It is what it is. I don’t have any problem with any sexuality or whatever they’ve got going on. That’s them. That’s what they want to do. That’s their life."
D'qwell Jackson (Cleveland Browns), on Jason Collins: "I respect & support."
Eric Decker (Denver Broncos): There is nothing weighty about what Decker said. But in 2011, he was named the world's hottest athlete by Outsports readers and he tweeted out his thanks to all those who voted for him. In 2013, he again won the contest and his fiancee tweeted out the voting. Imagine, a straight athlete not uncomfortable with gay guys thinking he's hot.
Lawrence Jackson (Free Agent, in Minnesota Vikings training camp): "I don't think it would be a problem at all. When I think of a ‘problem,' I think of guys talking down to him or stuff like that. I don't think that will happen in any locker room."
Deandre Hopkins (Houston Texans): "My sister is a lesbian. I'm not against gay marriage or anything like that. I feel like that's what sports need, more people coming out and being themselves."
Shaun Cody (Free Agent, formerly of Houston Texans): The defensive lineman tweeted this after President Obama came out for gay marriage -- "I cant wait to go to my first gay wedding. Decor should be outstanding #BoutTimeObama." Cody also jokes about sharing the same name as the popular gay porn site Sean Cody.com.
Coby Fleener (Indianapolis Colts): The tight end was among a dozen rookies Outsports spoke with at a 2012 event in Los Angeles. "As long as they competed on the field and gave it their all in practice, that’s all I care about," Fleener said about a gay teammate. "It’s not something that’s at the forefront of football. But especially at Stanford and in the Bay Area, it’s something you deal with on a regular basis, more so than anywhere else in the United States. So I’m very comfortable with it, whereas in other areas it might not be the norm."
Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts): "It's the 21st century and I know I would have absolutely no problem with it. I hope no one would treat them any differently than any straight player, no special treatment -- he's just another guy. It's none of our business, sexual preference of people. I hope that if someone is thinking about it and they do come out as gay as a professional football player and it makes them happy and it makes their life easier, than I think they should do it. When it does come, I'd be disappointed if there was a negative reaction among players."
T.Y. Hilton (Indianapolis Colts): "I would have that person's back and I would always be there for them."
Pat McAfee (Indianapolis Colts): "I think it's a generational thing. Our locker room, a younger generation, is very much more accepting because we've been around more gay people. In the recent years, gay folks have been much more open. A lot of us have gay friends and we kind of understand that they're just like us, they're just interested in different things."
Matt Overton (Indianapolis Colts): "Respect Jason Collins for stepping out. Live your life man! Hope people will respect him as a teammate & as a pro athlete."
Greg Toler (Indianapolis Colts): "It's not about your homosexuality or what you do in your spare time. As long as you come in here and work toward one common goal, to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, it's not that big of a deal. ... It's not a big deal at all. And I think it makes our world better to have different types of people."
Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis Colts): Wayne was asked about NBA player Jason Collins coming out. He said that doesn't know him but supports his decision. He said it wouldn't be a problem in Colts locker room
Matt Hasselbeck (Indianapolis Colts): "Statistically, it’s a fact that any of us who played in the NFL for a period of time has played with a gay teammate. That’s just a fact. If somebody came out, I think it would be brave of him, because of what the culture has been. But I’m sure we all have."
Cory Redding (Indianapolis Colts): At the end of the day, we're all up in here to play football. And that's all I care about you doing. What you do in your own time is your own time. ... I have no ill feeling toward a player that was to come out.
Denard Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars): "I think it was a good deal," Robinson said about Jason Collins coming out. "It was something he needed to do and face the truth. If he's gay, he's gay. I feel like, be yourself. Be true to yourself, and don't be scared to be true to yourself."
Jordan Rodgers (Free Agent, was at Jaguars training camp): "Whether you're gay or straight, you're one of my boys," Rodgers said. "Out on the football field, it doesn't matter if you're gay, it only matters if you perform."
Dion Jordan (Miami Dolphins): "I love all my guys, all my teammates. I have a certain amount of respect and trust for everybody I line up there with. Whatever that guy has going on in his personal life, that's up to him. It's my job to make sure he's ready to perform and he is performing on the football field."
Aaron Dobson (New England Patriots): "It doesn't bother me," he said about having a gay teammate. "That's his choice, what he decides to do. It's not affecting me. I'm not like that, but I'm not going to judge him any different."
Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots): The tight end was initially reticent of talking to Outsports, afraid of saying the wrong thing. But when asked about having a gay teammate, he said: "If that’s how they are, that’s how they are. I mean, we’re teammates so, as long as he’s being a good teammate and being respectful and everything, that’s cool."
Kenny Stills (New Orleans Saints): "I don't have a problem with it at all, I just feel like, as an American society so much attention is given to that, and it shouldn't be," said about Jason Collins coming out. "OK, he's gay, he likes what he likes. I'm straight, I like what I like. We just keep on moving on. It's a sensitive subject to talk about, but I feel like everybody likes what they like and that's how it is."
Justin Tuck (New York Giants): "For me, am I gay? No. Do I have any problems with being friends or teammates with someone who has decided to be gay? No. Like Larry [Fitzgerald, the Cardinals receiver] said, all we care about is having teammates who are going to help us win football games and be champions. If we had a gay teammate who was going to do that, I don't have any problems with it. If there is a gay football player, I hope there comes a time when you can come out and say 'I'm openly gay' and I hope this league and this society will accept it. Do I think it's going to be anytime soon? No, I don't. But I don't have much to say about it because I don't think it is an issue yet. It will become an issue when somebody does come out and say 'I'm gay.' "
Kevin Boss (Free Agent, former New York Giant): "Much respect for @jasoncollins34 who has chose to stand tall in a world filled with ignorance and hate."
Antonio Cromartie (New York Jets): The defensive back was among those athletes who have posed for the NoH8 campaign, designed to raise awareness for gay rights.
Marcel Reece (Oakland Raiders): Via You Can Play video, "If you can play, you can play...on our team."
Charles Woodson (Oakland Raiders): "With Jason Collins coming out and letting everybody know he was gay, it forces you to deal with it," Woodson said." If you’re someone who is against gay people, then my question is what you’re going to do once a player comes out in your locker room? Are you going to quit football?
Taiwan Jones (Oakland Raiders): The running back has a cousin who is gay, and said about a gay teammate, "as long as he respects me and my space, I have nothing against gay people or what he does in his life and his private time."
Chris Kluwe (Free agent, cut by Oakland this week): "Lustful cockmonster." Enough said.
Connor Barwin (Philadelphia Eagles): Barwin contacted Outsports to talk about marriage equality, proud of his gay brother Joe. In a wide-ranging interview, one quote stood out: "Times are really changing and people are understanding that there’s really no reason to have an issue with [gay marriage]. Embrace who people love and how they love."
Evan Mathis (Philadelphia Eagles): The guard was among the Eagles willing to talk about the gay issue with a Philadelphia magazine writer last year. "A lot of guys who are open-minded would be fine with" [a gay teammate], Mathis said. "The way I hear guys talk sometimes, I think some guys might be a little affected by it. I’d be fine with it."
Nick Foles (Philadelphia Eagles): The quarterback also doesn't care if a teammate is gay, adding, "I’m going to treat them the same way ... [football players are] normal people, and we just want to treat people decently."
Landry Jones (Pittsburgh Steelers): "It doesn't matter if you're gay or if you're straight," Jones said. "If you can play the game of football, you're going to be on a team and you're going to have a job. Just like if you're in a regular business setting. If you can do your job well, you can do your job. You can get paid and earn a living and provide for your family, whatever your family looks like."
LaMarr Woodley (Pittsburgh Steelers): Though a fierce division rival of Ayanbadejo, the linebacker stood up for him when he was attacked by Burns. Woodley took to his Twitter feed to say: "Yall kno im not pro raven about anything, but im sorry this is just crazy and not right!!"
Takeo Spikes (Free Agent, formerly of San Diego Chargers): The longtime linebacker had an interesting take on having a gay teammate. "Actually, I would like it better [if a teammate came out]. Because I like to be transparent. If it’s something that’s close to your heart, everybody should be transparent about it. You may not agree with what everybody does in life, but you can respect it."
Joe Staley (San Francisco 49ers): "I have no issues. I feel like everybody should be who they are. … I think this is a different generation. It’s more accepted."
Alex Boone (San Francisco 49ers): "I had a friend who came out and I was like all right, cool. I didn’t know he was gay and he came out and it didn’t change anything. We were still friends. It was like all right, cool. Who cares?"
Tarell Brown (San Francisco 49ers): "To each his own, whatever makes you happy, do it. I just feel like, you shouldn’t hide it. At the end of the day don’t be embarrassed with what you are, or what you do. If you are that way, that’s you."
Chris Culliver (San Francisco 49ers, upon visiting the Trevor Project after he had made anti-gay comments before the Super Bowl): "Great time at LGBTQ the Q is for (question)"
Larry Grant (San Francisco 49ers): "I’ve known guys that I’ve played with in the past (who were gay). When you’re younger you hear different kinds of jokes, when you are in high school and college. At the end of the day, we are all family in this locker room, and we accept each player for whoever they are. … It’s all a brotherhood."
Tavares Gooden (San Francisco 49ers): "I don’t have an issue with a teammate being gay or anything like that. As long as we respect each other space and every other’s mind than we are fine."
Frank Gore (San Francisco 49ers): "If you are gay, you are gay. I don’t have a problem with it. If that’s what you want to do, I’m fine with it. That’s their business, and you shouldn’t be in another man’s business."
LaMichael James (San Francisco 49ers): He echoed what Richardson said -- "As long as they help us win on Saturday and Sunday, what they do between them is their business."
Vernon Davis (San Francisco 49ers): Via You Can Play video, "It's time to support our LGBT friends, family and teammates."
Jon Ryan (Seattle Seahawks): "If Chris Culliver isn't suspended by Goodell then I am absolutely embarrassed to be part of a league that accepts this type of behavior." Ryan said this after Culliver made anti-gay comments at the Super Bowl.
Doug Martin (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Martin said about a gay teammate, "It wouldn’t really affect me."
Justin Hunter (Tennessee Titans): "I have nothing to do but respect it and treat them the same as I have always treated them," he said about a gay teammate.
"If you’re a coach and you don’t like the fact that a player is gay, are you going to stop coaching? I don’t think so. It would force guys to deal with it and you’d get over it. I’m sure there are probably players in the locker room who have thought another player was gay in the past. It’s not going to stop you from playing football. Life will go on and everybody will keep going out there doing their job."
Delanie Walker (Tennessee Titans): "It probably wouldn't affect me, but other guys might feel different," he said about a gay teammate. "That's him. If that's what he's into, that's what he's into. I can't judge a person for how he feels. Things happen. He was a great player. I don't see him no differently."
George Wilson (Tennessee Titans): The safety said it's all about team and that a gay teammate would be a part of that. "At the end of the day, when you’re one of the guys in the locker room, you’re one of the guys," he said. "As long as you can stay productive and get the job done, you’re still gonna remain one of the guys."
Kamerion Wimbley (Tennessee Titans): The defensive end had some help in accepting gay people. "My ex-girlfriend made me understand how being gay is OK. It’s better for people to be able to be themselves than have to hide in a shell all their lives," he said.
Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins): The quarterback told Outsports that he once had a gay teammate in high school who quit the team because of it. What did Griffin learn from him? "Just because they’re gay doesn’t mean they’re hitting on you," he said.
Donte Stallworth (Free agent, Washington Redskins training camp): "I'm ashamed to tell it, but when I was younger I was leaving the club. I was maybe 24-years old. I was leaving the club and there was a gay club letting out. And I walked out of there yelling gay slurs for no reason."
Ricky Jean Francois (Indianpolis Colts), Isaac Sopoaga (Philadelphia Eagles), Donte Whitner (San Francisco 49ers) and Ahmad Brooks (San Francisco 49ers): The four defensive players did an It Gets Better video against bullying of gay youth while all were on the San Francisco 49ers, the first NFL team to cut such an ad. "Every day brings different changes and challenges that define who you are. But something you should never experiences is being bullied, intimidated or being pressured into being someone or something you are not," they said.
If we missed any players, mention them in the comments.